It has been 25 years today since the Challenger tragedy that left millions of Americans in disbelief. The explosion of the space shuttle still looms in the minds of most which raises the question, "When will NASA make it's next big move, and will we ever make it to Mars?"

1986: The space shuttle Challenger lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. shortly before it exploded with a crew of seven aboard. File photo AP

Traci Watson - USAToday.com

Twenty-five years a

go Friday, the space shuttle Challenger vanished from the blue Florida sky, leaving only white corkscrews of smoke hanging in the air.

Challenger's disintegration 73 seconds after liftoff took the lives of high-school teacher Christa McAuliffe and six fellow astronauts, who perished in front of their families, friends and schoolchildren watching at Cape Canaveral and on live television across the nation.

Afterward, PresidentReagan told ashocked and grieving nation that the legacy of the accident would not be curtailed ambition for the space program, but accomplishments that would have made Challenger's crew proud.

Read the full article including NASA's current plans and the invaluable lessons learned in the wake of tragedy -usatoday.com